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Marcivana Rodrigues Paiva from Brazil carries a plant in the offertory procession as Pope Francis celebrates the concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican, October 27, 2019 (CNS/Paul Haring) See POPE-SYNOD-MASS Oct. 27, 2019.

Peruvian Cardinal Pedro Barreto SJ says the leading concerns for the Amazon region include not only issues like deforestation and illegal mining, but also the harassment and murder of environmental activists. Source: Crux. 

Following a meeting with Pope Francis on Monday, Cardinal Barreto told Vatican News the Church in the region is “very, very concerned about the situation, I would say, of abuse of environmental defenders, with some murders”.

Other major concerns, he said, are “the irrational exploitation of natural resources, deforestation, illegal mining, which means that the urgency is increasing due to the effects of climate change”.

Carindal Barreto, 80, is the president of the first-ever Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon (CEAMA). He noted the Amazon forest includes nine countries, 105 dioceses, and more than 130 bishops.

The Church’s primary mission in the Amazon, he said, is “caring for life,” with special attention for care of the natural environment and those who advocate for it and for the Amazonian communities.

“To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ is also to proclaim the rights of people. And also, the quality of life that they should have with the air, water and soil,” he said, saying CEAMA, established in 2020, is “very attentive” to the challenges of the Amazon and is working to put various proposals into practice.

In the Amazon, environmental activists have routinely been targeted for their efforts to oppose extractive mining and deforestation, among other things.

Peru’s national human rights centre reports that at least 30 environmental activists and community leaders have been killed since 2020. 

Cardinal Barreto was among the representatives of CEAMA and the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) who met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday to give him an update on their activities and progress on proposals that came out of the 2019 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon.


Top Amazon cardinal says murder of environmental activists a key concern (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)